International Collaboration on IP/Access to Medicines: Birth of South Africa's Fix the Patent Laws Campaign
35 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2016 Last revised: 22 Apr 2017
Date Written: 2016
In 2000, my colleague Yousuf Vawda and I became active in the global campaign to address intellectual property rights (IPRs), human rights, and barriers to access to affordable medicines for treating HIV and AIDS in South Africa. This paper details our academic collaboration, activist-oriented “clinical” offering, and the vibrant campaign that it helped to spawn. It also situates the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign (the “Campaign”) within the global framework of pro-Pharma legal rules and diplomatic pressures, showing the connections between the global political economy and local reform efforts grounded in the right to health enshrined in the South African Constitution. In Part II, I discuss the beginning of my involvement in IP and access-to-medicines work. Part III describes law reform efforts that address upstream barriers to the right to health and the collaboration between academics, practitioners, funders, and social movements that help energize needed reforms. Part IV explains the creation of IP systems that block access to generic medicines. Part V outlines the IP flexibilities permitted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Part VI discusses the deficiencies of the South African Patents Act of 1978. Part VII focuses on my involvement in developing a two-week IP course at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Part VIII details the creation of the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign. Part IX concludes the paper.
Keywords: intellectual property rights, South Africa
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